November 20, 2008

Questions You Can Answer. Yes. You.

First off, I was looking through my drafted posts and found one titled "My contribution to World Peace." There was no actual text, just that title. Too bad I've forgotten my brilliant plan for curing the world's ills.

Anyway, forgotten genius aside, I'm going home for Christmas.

And while I'm in Las Vegas, I'm giving an hour-ish long presentation for young parents about reading with your children.

So, obviously, I'm turning to the Internet. Tell my your favorite children's books (picture or chapter) and any fabulous tips you have for sharing books with small people.


  1. Eli's favorite books are 1. anything about trucks 2. Pat the Bunny 3. The Very Hungry Caterpillar and 4. this series of weirdish french 50's children's books about The Happy Lion. We have five of the seven, thanks to ebay, and he cannot get enough of them. I don't know if I have tips - just that we try to read with him whenever possible, we keep books around in stacks all over the house so he can bring them to us to read whenever he wants, he gets read to before bed, and he has a large bookshelf in his room filled with books and a big tote full of board books he likes to dig through. The kids books were the MOST important thing in the nursery to me.
    I just threw a kids book shower for a friend of mine - they had barely any books and books are expensive! And she got a ton. So that worked out really well.
    I always look for books are thrift stores and garage sales and we have gotten a lot of good stuff that way, but honestly I have been collecting picture books for my kids since I was 15, so that is another reason why we have so many.

  2. I have fallen in love with the book called Bats at the Library...Sue and Diane found it..and we all loved it so much we ALL got our own copies. I also love Snowmen at Night and Snowmen at Christmas. Obviously there are the classics, such as Polar Express...and then i LOVE a book called "Shake Dem Halloween Bones"...anyways...I have way to many favorites to list. Children's books + me = love. And as for tips for reading to small people...make it exciting! Change your voice, change the pitch...add motions...for books like "Shake Dem Halloween Bones" that have repetition...have the kids help you out and say those parts aloud with you. They LOVE it. Make sure they can see the pictures...if you are doing it with only one or two kids...have them sit next to you on either side and point to the words you are reading so they can follow along if they want to. Anyways...being the aspiring teacher that I am...I love reading to munchkins, so feel free to let me know if you want anymore comments from me :) haha.

  3. We really like books by Linda Ashman, especially Starry Safari, Sailing Off to Sleep, and....uh can't remember. The rhymes are great which makes it easy for Gwen to memorize them, making it easier for her to sight read words. They are great childrens books, cute stories and the rhymes and meter and everything actually so many childrens books they just

  4. How very exciting! When and where will you be doing this presentation? My kids and I like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, many of the Dr. Suess books, My Grandma/Grandpa/Mommy/Daddy and I, and something called Walter-The Farting Dog(Or something like that. I know, GROSS! But that's what happens when you have two boys that like that kind of humor.)

  5. My vote will always be for Roald Dahl and Jerry Spinelli. That said, is a pretty cool site run by a man with a son. This is important because I think boys over the age of 8 sometimes get left out of best books lists. Let's face it: their interests diverge at that point (if not before). Our family's secret? Whatever interests the kid. One grandchild will read anything. One needed horse books and now will read anything. A third still only reads Star Wars books, but he still reads!

  6. Margaret loves Dr. Seuss books and books by Felicia Numerhoff (I think that's her name) who writes the "If You" books, i.e. If you give a mouse a cookie, if you throw a pig a party, and her recent favorite, if you give a cat a muffin. She also loves the Skippy Jon Jones books as do we. I don't mind reading that to her all day because it's so fun to read out loud. She really likes "Baby Talk," "My Grandpa is Great," "Madeline," and "Everywhere Babies."

  7. My favorite children's picture book author is Mo Willems. I have too many favorite children's books to name. They're on my GoodReads anyway, so you can look if you want.

    The hardest thing for me has been to stop being paranoid about my kids hurting their books. I try to tell myself that it's better to have them taped to kingdom come or to have to buy new copies than to not let the kids flip through them anytime they want. This is really only a problem with Scott. Claire has never ripped a book in her life. We read before nap time too and not just bed time. It takes time, but it guarantees one more time in the day that I stop and read to my little kids. My MIL has a tradition of bringing the kids a book every time she visits. I LOVE it! Give books, ask for books. And as painful as it is, I have vowed to NEVER stop reading a book to my kids, no matter how well Claire can recite it from memory.

  8. My very favorite book as a little girl was Peabody by Rosemary Wells.

    I don't think it's in print anymore, but, it is a fantastic book and I have fond memories of the diorama I made of it in the 2nd grade :)

  9. I love routines. For all the mistakes I've made as a mom (another topic entirely), reading EVERY NIGHT at bedtime is probably our biggest positive. It is very rare that we miss. The kids have learned that getting themselves pajamed and bathed by a certain time means more stories. The faster they are, the more we read.

    What I find difficult now is that my the baby will not sit still for the books the older two like and he disrupts story time pretty badly. We've tried to make solutions for this by having the first grader (who is reading VERY basic things) find a book he either knows or can read and reading to the little ones before I read to him. It works about half the time.

  10. My children love anything with cars and Animals are a big hit. I don't really have a ton of tips on reading to children, my children have short attention spans so every page needs to catch their attention, I look for books with more pictures that words for them right now.

  11. Hmmmm...this is my forte. I have given such a presentation in a couple of my stakes. I did a chunk of research, called upon Jim Trelease's expertise, and handed out a bunch of free books every 10 minutes to a trivia question winner. Somewhere I have 100 questions from the best of children's literature. My personal favorites--Wolf's Chicken Stew, Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, Kimmel's Anansi books, Harvey Schlumpfenberger's Christmas Present to name a few. Would be glad to send my parent handouts. We're currently doing a family read-aloud program in my stake RS. Jim Trelease's website is awesome! He's retired; perhaps you could step into his shoes! Boston area guy as I recall.

  12. I have to agree with Mad Hadder that Jim Trelease is awesome. His book, The Read-Aloud Handbook, is awesome and it's full of good facts and research you could use. For example: did you know that kids' performance in school is most closely related to the number of books in the household, not how much time you read to them or anything like that? Crazy.

    Also, my main advice for sharing books with little ones: start when they're born. Sit them on your lap, rock back and forth, and read whatever you want. Let them turn pages, play with books, even chew on board books. All of this promotes literacy.

    But anyway, we like Where the Wild Things Are, Harry the Dirty Dog, I am a Bunny, and the original Pooh stories. Good luck!

  13. My favorite was A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. My grandmother gave it to me. I also loved Little Women- my mom gave me her copy from when she was a kid. I think there is something to reading a book that your parents/grandparents read. It makes it that much more significant.

  14. And have you read The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart? The best! I wish I would have been a kid when I found it!

  15. Okay, it's hard for me to know how my mom fostered such a love of reading because I can't remember NOT loving to read, but... we always read before bed, and she read to us in the car on long trips. Before I could read, my mom dragged her finger along under the lines they were singing in the hymnal at church. I watched videos from the library of familiar stories, like Bible stories or fairy tales, so I already kind of knew what to expect when I got to the book part. We went to the library all the time, so we had tons of variety in reading material, and my parents were big into children's magazines. Even now, I still cite knowledge from Zoobooks, Cricket, National Geographic World, and Highlights. So maybe it's about integrating reading into a lot of areas? Sorry that I can't be sure on this.

    Anyway, my favorites include the following:

    Picture books:
    - anything illustrated by Maurice Sendak
    - anything by Mitusmasa Anno; do you know of him? One of my favorite books ever is The King's Flower
    - anything with Tomie de Paola
    - the Frances books (e.g., Bread and Jam for Frances)
    - Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
    - Golden Books? Is that what they're called? We had a zillion of them.
    - my mom also tried to give me a good amount of Asian influence, with books like How My Parents Learned to Eat and Fu Dog

    Chapter books:
    - Frog and Toad
    - No Fighting, No Biting
    - Amelia Bedelia books
    - Miss Piggle Wiggle series
    - Little House on the Prairie series
    - anything by Roald Dahl
    - the All-of-a-Kind Family series
    - Anne of Green Gables series
    - there are some great biographies and memoirs I read, too, but the only one I can think of now is Boy, by Roald Dahl. Introducing nonfiction is good, I think.

  16. I'm not a parent, but this past summer I took a class on childrens lit (loved it!) and we had a project where we had to read with children. my prof said how important it was to involve the children in the story by asking them questions before, during and after the story. we also did an activity, to help them remember the story. I read "bad dog, marley," which is the childrens version of "marley and me" and I have a big stuffed dog that we used to act out our favorite scenes. it was such a good time!

  17. My favorite book when I was growing up was "What Do You Do With a Kangaroo?" It was the first book that I read out loud. I liked it because it had words like kangaroo, llama and opossum.

  18. My kids love nearly everything, but Robert Munsch is always a hit.

    As for the general topic?

    We sit down for about twenty minutes or so before bedtime and read books. It is a part of our routine and the kids love it!

  19. Ok Janssen- you got me to actually comment on this one. I've had a blast picking out picture books for Gabriel, even though the little fiesty feller usually won't sit through one whole page of a book (even if I try to get to the next page really quick to keep his interest!). The ONE that keeps him interested almost all the time, though, is Dr Suess's ABC book. Genius. Love that one. I also love Max Lucado's books because they teach such good morals and they are SO cute (the Wemmicksville characters). I especially love "If I only had a green nose". Tips- just get books they can't rip apart or bite apart or destroy in some other way...hah! Ours probably won't last all the way through our next kid's first book stage. But board books seriously are wonderful, and Gabriel will pay attention a little longer if he can grab at the page and turn it. Good luck- sounds like tons of fun!

  20. The favorites at our house are:
    Go Dog Go (do voices)
    Green Eggs & Ham
    Are You My Mother?
    Parts (awesome book)
    Hi Fly Guy (Zach's favorite)
    There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly
    Shake Dem Halloween Bones (not my favorite, but Savannah LOVES it - we made up a tune for it and she sings it all the time)
    *Changing the pitch in your voice works wonders for keeping their attention...and being silly

  21. I haven't read the other comments, so hope I'm not contradicting or duplicating.

    Practically from the moment my babies were born my husband and I started with simple nursery rhymes, prayers, songs, and just plain talking to them. I also started reading to them as I was nursing. When they got to the point of grabbing the book to look, we starting looking at picture books together. I'd point and say the picture name and give the color and sound. Pretty soon the baby would point and "say".

    My babies had cloth books that they could have in their crib to "read" by themselves, too. Later, they had the tough card board books.

    The story books were all different kinds - nursery rhyme books, Mother Goose, simple fables, some of the old Golden Books, child friendly Bible stories, Dr. Suess, Beatrix Potter, picture books, children's poetry, etc.

    As the children got older, they could choose which book they wanted read to them. My son almost always chose Richard Scarry books, and my daughter almost always chose Berenstain Bears books. (My granddaughter liked Sesame Street books.)

    The children would sometimes want to "read" their favorite books to us. It is important not to show impatience or correct them (unless they're not being nice). They often want the same book read over and over. I can see no harm in this at all (other than driving us nuts - lol).

    I think it is important that the children see adults treat books with great respect and that children see adults enjoy reading instead of watching TV. They notice!

    Having a magazine (like Highlights) and a book come in the mail for the child once a month is a good incentive to read. (This is something that grandparents can do for a birthday or Christmas. It fits and it doesn't have to cost a fortune!) Keep the books! Have bookshelves for your children. This tells the child that the books are important.

    If you must clear out clutter, toys take up more room than books. If you must get rid of books, ask your child if he or she would give his or her books to the children who don't have any books to read (white lie?). If you sell them in your yard sale, you are telling the child that the books aren't important.

    Schedule regular trips to the library. (Our local library has a special reading program for little ones.) If the child is in daycare, please make sure the daycare has a reading time.

    Some children like books with "busy" pictures. Others like books with simple ones. If the child isn't interested in one kind, try another.

    I was a reading aide for several years. I noticed that the first graders will try to read anything. The advanced first graders and the second graders liked The Magic Tree House Mysteries. The 3rd and 4th graders liked Hank the Cow Dog series, Gary Paulsen stories, The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and abridged classics. (While I'm not a big fan of students taking Accelerated Reading tests instead of writing book reports, the Accelerated Reading Program is for most students an incentive to read.)

    One last comment. According to our eye doctor: if the child gets headaches, doesn't want to read (fusses or fights about it), has difficulty learning to read, and/or even fights about going to school, have the child's eyes checked for far-sightedness or for double vision. This is generally more common in boys than girls because boys eyes often don't develop as early as girls. Males can be in their early twenties before this problem corrects itself. Girls either don't have the problem or usually "outgrow" it before reaching puberty. The parent will probably have to ask specifically for this, because the eye doctor is "programmed" to check to see if the child can see the writing on the chalk board. (Again, this is according to our eye doctor.)

    Sorry you can't remember your contribution to world peace, but a smile is always good. So, here is a smile for you tonight :) (I know, I'm a nerd.)

  22. The Barking Mouseby Antonio Sacre and Alfredo Aguirre , and the Baby BeeBee Bird by Diane Redfield Massie and Steven Kellogg, my kindergartners love them both.

  23. Consider Love by Sandra Boynton.
    The Giving Tree
    Amelia Bedelia

  24. Um, this is slightly awkward because you have no clue who I am, but I'm a friend of Becca's who recently found and happens to really like your blog. And only in a mildly stalkerish sort of way. In any case, since no one else has mentioned it, I have to say that Ernie's Big Mess was by far and away my favorite childhood book. I had my mom read it to me approximately 14 times each night.

  25. I love books by Don and Audrey wood, especially Quick as a Cricket and The Big Hungry Bear. The latter always kept my attention even as a baby (according to my parents) because it lends itself so well to sound effects and voices. Dr. Seuss has been mentioned many times, and those books lend themselves well to playing as you read, so the kids learn how super wicked fun and awesome reading is.

  26. Ooooh, pick me, pick me! You don't know me, but I LOVE reading your blog, and I LOVE little kids books! Some of my favorites are: "King Bidgood's in the bathtub" (for the illustrations), "Bad Case of Stripes" (for the moral and you can also count and do colors and shapes with the stripes and patterns), and "Whitefish Will Rides Again" for the darlingly descriptive language and fun read-aloud-ability. Also, one thing some mom's around here do to get cheaper books is get a copy of a book order from a friend's older child's teacher and have a bunch of people order from it. (As you know) they often have paperback copies of hardback books and other ways to make them cheaper. Have so much fun and be sure to let us know which ones you share!

  27. Well, I can tell you Rebecca's favorite book. She will be two in January. The book is called "Q is for Duck." Why? Because ducks quack, of course! Every day, I get a blue book shoved in my face accompanied by "Q Duck, Mommy! Q Duck!" I don't know how young you meant when you said children's book, but if you're searching for an alphabet picture book, have I got the one for you.
    On an interesting sidenote, she also loved "I Know an Old Lady who Swallowed a Pie," a Thanksgiving rendition of the children's song. Every time I finish reading/singing the book, she claps and says, "yay!" Oh, she's so proud of Mommy.

  28. I'd like a copy of this speech.
    Very cool!

  29. Janssen-
    You should write to my mother... she has done several classes and talks on this very subject and has a lot of great material. Plus she has a lot of personal experience... as you does your mother. ;)

    Of course my personal favorite from my childhood is, "My mother didn't kiss me goodnight." Never read it? You should. It's one of those old dusty ones with the bright orange 80s covers that sat on the back shelf in the library but was well, well loved by one little girl anyway. My mother must have checked it out once a week for years. After I left home (of course) she bought it and it now sits on our bookshelf at home. :)


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